Another Eid in Guantanamo Bay
Some 200 men have just celebrated their tenth Eid in the US prison as they continue to be detained without trial.
David J Cynamon
08 November 2011
As the Middle East - and Muslims around the world - complete the celebration of Eid al Adha, it is important to remember that there are almost 200 men who just "celebrated" their tenth Eid behind bars in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with no end in sight to their imprisonment.
Two of those men are my clients, Kuwaiti citizens Fawzi al Odah and Fayiz al Kandari. Both are being held in "indefinite detention without trial", a category previously unknown under US law until it was adopted by the Obama administration, despite President Obama's claims that he wants to close Guantanamo.
There are many tragic mysteries about Guantanamo, but the one that puzzles me most is why these two Kuwaitis remain there.
Obama administration officials say that they would like to release more prisoners, but cannot find countries to accept them. Yet the government of Kuwait, at the highest levels, has repeatedly asked President Obama and the US government to return the Kuwaiti citizens.
Kuwait has agreed to every US government demand for their conditions of return, including the establishment of a state-of-the-art rehabilitation centre and program to help Fawzi and Fayiz reintegrate into Kuwaiti society after their decade-long ordeal.
Today, the centre still sits empty, as the government of Kuwait patiently and diligently awaits for a response from the US government.
One wonders why. Is it that the current administration lacks the willpower or political prowess to release the detainees? Or could it be that the United States is afraid that Kuwait has an independent judiciary that respects individual civil liberties, so that Kuwait cannot simply lock Fawzi and Fayiz up upon their return and throw away the key?
The idea of indefinite detention without trial directly contradicts the laws and philosophy upon which the United States was built.
As Kuwait continues to open its doors, hearts and minds to the US government, when will the trust be recognised that Kuwait only wants what is best for its citizens, while ensuring that the relationship between the two countries remains strong?
Ask yourself, if this were your family, would these policies be something you could live with, or should there be pressure put on the current US administration to follow through with the promises it has made Kuwait and many other nations over the past three years?
I pray our questions are answered, allowing Fawzi and Fayiz to be with their loved ones in time for the next Eid.
David J Cynamon is a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop in Washington DC and represents the remaining Kuwaiti detainees at Guantanamo Bay. In September 2007, he was named Litigator Of The Year by the Washington Business Journal.